Diaries and Journals

I found some old diaries and journals and it changed my perspective on keeping diaries and journals!


I heard the other week that when we remember something, we are actually remembering the previous time we remembered it, not the original event itself.

Not being a neurobiologist, I had a civilian root around and this seems to be the general consensus but I haven’t conducted experiments myself to validate the findings.

I got to thinking how Mormons are encouraged to keep a diary, to record the daily event and also the insights that occur in their lives.

We move house quite frequently.  Since the age of 24 I’ve bounced around in a state of “this fixed abode isn’t likely to be fixed for very long”.  I chose to move every time.  Each time was for a good reason.  What it didn’t foster, though, was a sense of permanence and of being able to settle in.

It’s a running joke that if I’m not willing to carry it to the truck next time, it’s not coming in my house.  Thus I have very few personal possessions.  What I do have, however, are earlier diaries, written by me when I was feeling particularly like recording what was going on.

I have a good memory.  I am pretty blessed with good recall, particularly if there is an audible element to the interaction.

However, when I read back over my diaries which have travelled with me all these house moves, I noticed that there had been a drift, a huge difference between what happened (what I’d written) and how I thought it happened (my current memory of the event).

It is this drift which made me appreciate, for the first time, why it was good to keep a diary.  It is like having the opportunity to re-calibrate and get back to an authentic starting point, which is highly valuable and most definitely appreciated.

To revisit wonderful events such as the birth of a child, or what serving a mission was really like, what it was like to move from my home town to somewhere I hardly knew anybody, the wedding day, holidays, or how frustrated I was to live in a dusty and half renovated house, how liberating and life affirming it was during the time I was agnostic, how really furious I was at a huge bust up, or how this years health kick really will be the one to change everything added a richness to the memories I walk around with daily.

I am also someone who is immensely frustrated at not being able to see the end from the beginning.  It is a physical pain, a torment, and makes me want to sharpen a biro or two.  It is a common phrase among my friends “the end from the beginning”.

The diaries I found in a suitcase of books from the most recent 3 house moves helped me see a pattern over a period of years – not the day or two I was hoping for when in the midst of challenges – of how things panned out, how with consistent effort and attention we worked through everything thus far.

I love meme’s and one of my favourites is “I have a 100% track record of getting through rough times”.

The diaries are evidentiary support of this simple idea.

I have gotten through the bad, I have always and vigorously embraced the fantastic, I have a happy habit of seeing the good, and even on the days where I make a nest in a pile of duvets and cannot be coaxed out for love nor money it all worked out ok.

I can see in hindsight the times when I was loved and looked after.  I can see the unfolding of hopes, dreams and promises.  It is rather humbling to be taught by yourself in the present moment from a time in the distant past, like a voice from the dust.

I think I may try to be a little more diligent going forward.


Author: Pollyanna Whyte

Single LDS Mormon Mum/Mom living in England. This is my blog on emotional health, fun, parenting, life, divorce, starting over, friends, family, church things, and budgeting. Stop by, tell us what you think, feel free to share (but credit the source please).

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